Letter to the Editor:
A review of the walleye bag limit lake list for Vilas County shows that 60 of the five-bag lakes are either no public access lakes, lakes that had no walleyes until stocked by someone or both — and many of those 60 lakes, in fact the great majority — have no significant walleye population, if any, at all.
I think the same is true of lakes all across the “ceded area.” Their inclusion on the list of lakes with walleye available for tribal harvest allows the tribe to not claim a percent from those lakes, which then allows the tribe to increase the percentage claimed from lakes that have walleye and public access, while still not exceeding the 50% they are allowed from total allowable catch in the ceded area.
Call it creative bookkeeping, smoke and mirrors, or whatever, the bottom line is the tribes claim in excess of 50% of the allowable catch in public waters available to the average angler, and it’s past time for a correction. The same holds true for muskie, by the way.
Secondly, the governor’s walleye initiative won’t help our bag limit. The tribes can still claim enough fish to reduce the bag limit to two, one or none, no matter how many fish are present in the lake.
We continue to waste licensee money by stocking lakes that have little or no natural reproduction because they never had a natural walleye population, and/or lack suitable spawning habitat. Our money would be much better spent by habitat work that would enhance natural reproduction.
In some lakes that would require removal of invasive species, such as smelt and rusty crayfish, and milfoil and curly leaf pondweed.
Walleye are not a “put and take” fish, they need time to grow and reproduce. It’s difficult to develop a quality walleye fishery when everyone wants to keep them, and doubly difficult when one of the parties sharing the resource either doesn’t get it or doesn’t care.
Finally, the Department of Natural Resources can increase the bag limits regardless of tribal harvest by shortening the angler’s season. This is a part of the court agreement which has never been implemented, but is an option available.